Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS7005966 B1
Publication typeGrant
Application numberUS 09/574,736
Publication dateFeb 28, 2006
Filing dateMay 18, 2000
Priority dateMay 18, 2000
Fee statusPaid
Also published asUS20060092041
Publication number09574736, 574736, US 7005966 B1, US 7005966B1, US-B1-7005966, US7005966 B1, US7005966B1
InventorsMichael V. Leman, William M. Creese
Original AssigneeMicron Technology, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Remote computer controller and control method
US 7005966 B1
Abstract
A computer system is configured to be powered up by a hand-held controller. The hand-held controller is in wireless communication with a computer. One or more buttons on the hand-held controller may be used to automatically launch a particular application program which has been pre-selected by a computer user after completing the power up process.
Images(4)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(13)
1. A remote controlled computer system, comprising:
a computer comprising a wireless receiver configured for radio frequency communication, wherein the wireless receiver comprises a printed circuit board that is configured to connect with an expansion slot of the computer, and wherein the wireless receiver comprises a battery for powering the wireless receiver;
a hand-held controller comprising a wireless transmitter and an attachment device for attaching the hand-held controller to a key ring, purse handle, or other commonly carried personal item;
wherein said hand-held controller is configured to send a signal to said wireless receiver upon user actuation, and wherein said computer is configured to perform a power on sequence and to launch a user-defined application program in response to receiving said signal, wherein said wireless receiver and wireless transmitter have a communication range of approximately 200 to 500 feet, wherein said hand-held controller comprises at least three assigned buttons for actuating said signal, and wherein one of said assigned buttons initiates the power on sequence and the launching of a first user-defined application program, wherein another one of said assigned buttons initiates the power on sequence and the launching of a second user-defined application, and wherein another one of said assigned buttons initiates the power on sequence without launching of an application program.
2. The computer system of claim 1, wherein the wireless transmitter is configured for radio frequency communication.
3. A method of remotely controlling a computer comprising transmitting a signal from a hand-held controller to said computer, and in response thereto, placing said computer in an on state and launching a user specified application program, wherein said hand-held controller comprises at least three assigned buttons for actuating said signal, and wherein one of said assigned buttons initiates the power on sequence and the launching of a first user-defined application program, wherein another one of said assigned buttons initiates the power on sequence and the launching of a second user-defined application, and wherein another one of said assigned buttons initiates the power on sequence without launching of an application program, wherein said computer comprises a wireless receiver that includes a printed circuit board that is configured to connect with an expansion slot of the computer, and wherein the wireless receiver comprises a battery for powering the wireless receiver.
4. The method of claim 3 comprising the step of analyzing said signal to select an application for launch from a plurality of application programs.
5. The method of claim 3, wherein said transmitting occurs over a distance of approximately 200 to 500 feet.
6. A computer system, comprising:
a hand-held controller comprising a radio frequency transmitter, wherein said controller is configured to transmit at least first, second, and third different signals in response to at least first and second different user actuation operations, the hand-held controller further comprising an attachment device for attaching the hand-held controller to a portable object; and
a computer comprising a radio frequency receiver; wherein said computer is configured to (1) receive said first, second, and third different signals, (2) analyze said first, second, and third different signals, (3) perform a power up sequence in response to either said first signal, said second signal, or said third signal, (4) launch a first application program in response to said first signal, and (5) launch a second application program in response to said second signal, and
wherein the radio frequency receiver comprises a printed circuit board that is configured to connect with an expansion slot of the computer, and wherein the radio frequency receiver comprises a battery for powering the wireless receiver.
7. The computer system of claim 6, wherein said first and second different user actuation operations comprise depressing first and second buttons on said hand-held controller.
8. A remote control device for a personal computer comprising a hand-held housing containing wireless signal transmission circuitry for communicating with wireless signal receiving circuitry in said personal computer, wherein said housing comprises an attachment device for connecting said remote control device to a key ring, purse handle, or other commonly carried personal item, and wherein said hand-held controller comprises at least three assigned buttons for actuating said signal and wherein one of said assigned buttons initiates the power on sequence and the launching of a first user-defined application program and wherein another one of said assigned buttons initiates the power on sequence and the launching of a second user-defined application, and wherein another one of said assigned buttons initiates the power on sequence without launching of an application program, wherein the wireless signal receiving circuitry comprises a printed circuit board that is configured to connect with an expansion slot of the computer, and wherein the wireless signal receiving circuitry comprises a battery for powering the wireless signal receiving circuitry.
9. The remote control device of claim 8, additionally comprising a plurality of user actuated buttons for selecting from a plurality of remotely controlled personal computer functions.
10. The remote control device of claim 8, wherein said wireless transmission circuitry is configured to communicate with said wireless receiving circuitry over a range of approximately 200 to 500 feet.
11. A remote control device for a personal computer comprising:
a hand-held housing containing wireless signal transmission circuitry for communicating with wireless signal receiving circuitry in said personal computer, wherein said wireless signal receiving circuitry comprises a printed circuit board that is configured to connect with an expansion slot of the computer, and wherein the wireless signal receiving circuitry comprises a battery for powering the wireless receiver; and
at least three user actuated controls operative to initiate wireless signal transmission from said remote control device of a command to said personal computer, and wherein one of said actuated controls initiates the power on sequence and the launching of a first user-defined application program, wherein another one of said actuated controls initiates the power on sequence and the launching of a second user-defined application, and wherein another one of said actuated controls initiates the power on sequence without launching of an application program.
12. The remote control device of claim 11, wherein said wireless transmission circuitry is configured to communicate with said wireless receiving circuitry over a range of approximately 200 to 500 feet.
13. A computer system comprising:
a computer comprising a power supply and a storage device storing application programs;
a wireless receiver that comprises a printed circuit board that is configured to connect with an expansion slot of the computer, and wherein the wireless receiver comprises a battery for powering the wireless receiver; and
hand-held remote control means for activating said power supply and launching a selected one of said application programs from a distance of approximately 200 to 500 feet, and wherein said hand-held controller comprises at least three assigned buttons for initiating a power up of the computer and wherein one of said assigned buttons initiates the power on sequence and the launching of a first user-defined application program, wherein another one of said assigned buttons initiates the power on sequence and the launching of a second user-defined application, and wherein another one of said assigned buttons initiates the power on sequence without launching of an application program.
Description
BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

The invention relates to remote control of computers.

2. Description of the Related Art

In today's business world, personal computers are almost a necessity, and are commonly found in offices and employee workspaces. Generally, people turn their computer off when they leave the office after work in the evening. This is done to conserve energy, to address safety concerns common to all energized electrical appliances, and also in response to security concerns that someone other than the computer owner may gain access to sensitive business information. Thus, when most people arrive at the office in the morning, they must turn on their computer, wait for the system to boot up, and then launch some particular application program they will be using. This results in wasted time as the user sits and waits for the computer to complete the boot up process.

Currently, no computer system is available that addresses this problem. Various types of remote control systems for computers have been described and marketed, but none are particularly suitable for resolving the above described problem. Many conventional remote computer controllers, wireless mice and keyboards, for example, have a very short communication range, and/or require a clear line of sight between the wireless transmitter in the device and the receiver in the computer. This makes them impractical for use by a worker until entering the office. There would therefore be minimal, if any, time savings involved with the use of these devices to control initiation of computer operation.

Other remote control devices work over telephone connections. One example of such a system is provided by U.S. Pat. No. 5,596,628 to Jon Klein. These systems, however, require the initiation of a telephone connection with the computer to be controlled. This is not convenient for solving the above described problem. For these reasons, a convenient and simple to operate computer system with remote computer power control is needed in the art.

SUMMARY

The invention includes remotely controllable computer systems, methods of remote computer control, and devices for the remote control of computers. In one embodiment, the invention comprises a remote controlled computer system, including a computer comprising a wireless receiver and a hand-held controller comprising a wireless transmitter. The hand-held controller is configured to send a signal to the wireless receiver upon user actuation, and the computer is configured to perform a power on sequence and to launch a user-defined application program in response to receiving the signal.

In another embodiment the invention comprises a method of remotely controlling a computer comprising transmitting a signal from a hand-held controller to the computer, and in response thereto, placing the computer in an on state and launching a user specified application program.

One embodiment of a remote control device for a personal computer comprises a hand-held housing containing wireless signal transmission circuitry for communicating with wireless signal receiving circuitry in the personal computer. The housing comprises an attachment device for connecting the remote control device to a key ring, purse handle, or other commonly carried personal item. In another embodiment, a remote control device for a personal computer comprises a hand-held housing containing wireless signal transmission circuitry for communicating with wireless signal receiving circuitry in the personal computer and at least one user actuated control operative to initiate wireless signal transmission of a command to perform a power up sequence and launch a selected application program.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an overall perspective view of a hand-held computer controller in wireless communication with a personal computer according to one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2 is flow chart illustrating steps performed by a computer in response to received control signals according to one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 3 is a block diagram of a computer system configured to receive and interpret control signals according to one embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Embodiments of the invention will now be described with reference to the accompanying Figures, wherein like numerals refer to like elements throughout. The terminology used in the description presented herein is not intended to be in interpreted in any limited or restrictive manner, simply because it is being utilized in conjunction with a detailed description of certain specific embodiments of the invention. Furthermore, embodiments of the invention may include several novel features, no single one of which is solely responsible for its desirable attributes or which is essential to practicing the inventions herein described.

Referring now to FIG. 1, a computer system in accordance with one embodiment of the invention comprises a controller 20. The controller 20 is advantageously small enough to fit comfortably in a person's hand as well as in a pocket, purse, automobile glove compartment, or the like. In one embodiment, the controller 20 comprises an attachment device 22. The attachment device 22 may be a suitably sized hole, a wire loop or ring, or other facility for attaching the controller 20 to a key ring, purse handle, or other commonly carried personal item.

The controller 20 also incorporates internal wireless transmission circuitry and an antenna (not shown) for wireless communication with a computer 24 that incorporates an antenna 26 and a wireless receiver. These aspects of the computer 24 will be described in more detail below with reference to FIG. 3. Using a wireless link 28, the controller 20 sends commands to the computer 24. In one embodiment, the commands issued by the controller 20 are operative to place the computer in the on state and optionally to also launch a user specified application program such as a word processor, spreadsheet, web browser, CAD and CAE programs, etc.

As shown in FIG. 1, one embodiment of the controller 20 has three user actuated push buttons. A first button 30 may initiate only computer 24 power up, but not launch any specific application programs. A second button 32 may initiate both power up and the launch of a first user defined application program. A third button 34 may initiate both power up and the launch of a second user defined application program. Thus, the user may have a choice of several different remote control operations. This embodiment may be used to eliminate time wasted by computer users while waiting for their computer to boot up and load a desired application program. In a business or office environment, for example, a computer user may prefer to have their office computer on and running the moment they arrive at the office. In this embodiment, an advantageous range for the communication link 28 may be between approximately 200 and 500 feet. With this range, as the user is heading toward the office, they can press a button 30, 32, 34 on the controller 20, thereby initiating either only power up, or also power up plus the launch of a desired application. When they arrive at the office door a few minutes later, the computer is ready and waiting for them.

The construction of wireless transmitter and receiver circuitry suitable for implementing the wireless link 28 is well known and will not be described in detail herein. This technology is used in applications such as garage door openers, keyless entry systems for automobiles, as well as other currently available commercial applications, and a wide variety of specific designs could be used in the controller 20 and computer 24 without altering the character of the system. The 200 to 500 foot range may be advantageous in that it is far enough to generally provide two or more minutes between initiation of power up and arrival of the user at the computer 24, but it is not so far to become an excessive drain on one or more batteries internal to the controller 20. Longer ranges of 900 or more feet may also be advantageous, especially in those instances where the resulting reduction of battery life is not a major concern.

One embodiment of a method of response of the computer 24 to the actuation of the buttons 30, 32, 34 on the controller 20 is illustrated in FIG. 2. The method begins at step 40 when the computer 24 receives a wireless transmission signal from the controller 20. As also shown below in FIG. 3, the wireless message reception and analysis circuitry in the computer 24 is continually in the on-state, even when the remainder of the computer 24 is in an off-state. The signal received by the computer 24 advantageously includes at least two pieces of information for use by the computer 24. The first is a controller hardware identification code. The second is an instruction code that designates which application program, if any, should be launched.

At the next step 42, the computer 24 checks the controller hardware identification code, and compares it to an internally stored identification code. If, at step 44, these two codes match, the computer 24 accepts the remainder of the transmitted data and, at step 46, stores the transmitted instruction code. If the codes do not match, at step 48 the computer 24 ignores the remainder of the message. In analogy with garage door openers and automotive keyless entry systems, this step 42 allows simultaneous use of different controllers 20 in proximity to one another in a single office building for example. In this way, the computer 24 only responds to control instructions from the controller 20 in the possession of the operator of the computer 24.

After storing the instruction code, at step 50 the computer initiates a power up sequence. As described below with reference to FIG. 3, this step advantageously includes activating the computer power supply and loading the operating system software. At step 52, the computer 24 retrieves and interprets the stored instruction code, and at step 54, the computer launches the appropriate application program as specified by the retrieved instruction code.

Referring now to FIG. 3, the computer 24 advantageously includes a processor and memory circuitry 60 and a storage device 62 that may, for example, comprise a hard disk drive. The computer 24 also includes remote control interface circuitry 64 for receiving signals and/or data from the remote transmitter 20. The computer 24 further includes a power supply 66 that supplies power to all of the electrical components of the computer 24. The processor and memory circuits 60, the storage device 62, and the remote control interface circuitry 64 are coupled through a bus system 70. Although not illustrated for purposes of clarity, those of skill in the art will appreciate that the bus system 70 will typically comprise a set of busses of varying format that communicate through bridge circuitry. The remote control interface circuitry 64 may be incorporated into the computer 24 in a variety of ways. It may comprise a daughter printed circuit board which plugs into an expansion slot in the computer 24. Alternatively, it may be incorporated directly onto a motherboard in the computer 24 that also mounts the processor and memory circuits 60. The remote control interface circuitry 64 is continually powered by a battery 72 so that it can receive and process wireless signals transmitted to the computer 24 even when the computer 24 is in an off state.

The storage device 62 stores, among other things, several application programs 74 a, 74 b, 74 c. As discussed above, it is one of these programs that the user may wish to remotely launch. The storage device 62 also contains a remote on program 76. In this embodiment, the remote controller 20 sends a signal to the remote control interface circuitry 64 which includes the controller identification code 78 and one of the instruction codes 80 or 82. The remote control interface circuitry 64 then compares the received identification code with a stored identification code 84. If the two match, the remote control interface circuitry 64 stores the received instruction code in an instruction code register 86.

After storing the instruction code in the register 86, the remote control interface circuitry activates the power supply 66 by asserting an output 88 which is connected to the power supply circuitry 66. This may be accomplished in a wide variety of ways which are well understood by those in the art. Asserting the output line 88 may close a relay in the AC power lines to the power supply, for example. In an advantageous embodiment, the power supply includes a low voltage secondary on/off signal line that toggles the supply from an off state to an on state when asserted. In this embodiment, the output 88 is coupled to this secondary on/off signal line.

Upon the application of power, the computer 24 will load its operating system software. A variety of operating systems are currently utilized in the computer industry, including Unix™, Linux™, DOS™, and Windows™. At this time, a large majority of the currently commercially available personal computers automatically load Windows™ upon power up. Furthermore, Windows™ includes a Startup utility, which allows the user to list one or more application programs that Windows™ will load and run automatically when the computer 24 is powered up.

In the embodiment of FIG. 3, the remote on program 76 is listed in the Startup utility for automatic launch when the computer is powered up. The remote on program 76 causes the computer to perform an I/O operation to retrieve the instruction code stored in the instruction code register 86. Using a table which is part of the remote on program 76 that cross references instruction codes with application programs 74 a, 74 b, 74 c, the remote on program 76 determines which application program the user wishes to have launched, and initiates the loading of this user selected application program.

With the controller 20 illustrated in FIG. 1, depending on the button 30, 32, 34 pushed on the remote controller 20, different instruction codes will be sent and stored in the instruction code register 86, resulting in the launch of different application programs. If the user only wants to power the computer up without launching a program, this may be accomplished by sending, for example, all zeros as an instruction code when the appropriate button 30 is pushed on the controller 20. This may be interpreted by the remote on program 76 as an instruction to load no additional application program. In addition, the remote control interface circuitry could be provided with a connection 90 to the power supply output. In an embodiment with this connection 90, if the power supply is activated locally with the power switch, the power supply output may be sensed, and the remote control interface circuit could be configured load zeros into the instruction code register in response so that no application program is automatically loaded as may be the case with the remote power up procedure. A convenient remote controller is therefore provided which is easy to carry, simple to operate, and which saves computer users time.

The foregoing description details certain embodiments of the invention. It will be appreciated, however, that no matter how detailed the foregoing appears in text, the invention can be practiced in many ways. As is also stated above, it should be noted that the use of particular terminology when describing certain features or aspects of the invention should not be taken to imply that the terminology is being re-defined herein to be restricted to including any specific characteristics of the features or aspects of the invention with which that terminology is associated. The scope of the invention should therefore be construed in accordance with the appended claims and any equivalents thereof.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4308615Sep 17, 1979Dec 29, 1981Honeywell Information Systems Inc.Microprocessor based maintenance system
US4531740Jun 22, 1983Jul 30, 1985Cynex Manufacturing CorporationRemote control system for a video computer game
US4639881Jun 1, 1983Jan 27, 1987M.A.N.-Roland Druckmaschinen Ag.Data input unit and method for printing machines
US4647721Mar 19, 1985Mar 3, 1987Dynatech Computer Power, Inc.Telephone activated power controller
US4751578May 28, 1985Jun 14, 1988David P. GordonSystem for electronically controllably viewing on a television updateable television programming information
US4998240Aug 15, 1989Mar 5, 1991C & P Of VirginiaMethod of and system for remote testing of integrated services digital networks
US5014218Jul 25, 1989May 7, 1991Halliburton CompanyUsing a remote control computer connected to a vocal control computer and a monitor computer
US5051720Nov 13, 1989Sep 24, 1991Secure Telecom, Inc.Remote control system using power line of remote site
US5107258Sep 30, 1988Apr 21, 1992Rene SoumWireless remote control high security system permitting the opening or theft-proof closing of relays actuating systems such as locks
US5204768Feb 12, 1991Apr 20, 1993Mind Path Technologies, Inc.Remote controlled electronic presentation system
US5388211Apr 20, 1993Feb 7, 1995Softel, Inc.Method and apparatus for remotely controlling and monitoring the use of computer software
US5408582May 5, 1993Apr 18, 1995Colier; Ronald L.Method and apparatus adapted for an audibly-driven, handheld, keyless and mouseless computer for performing a user-centered natural computer language
US5457478May 24, 1994Oct 10, 1995Firstperson, Inc.Control device
US5457742Oct 18, 1993Oct 10, 1995Datalogic CorporationWireless telephone remote control system
US5497479Feb 28, 1995Mar 5, 1996Softel, Inc.Method and apparatus for remotely controlling and monitoring the use of computer software
US5521631May 25, 1994May 28, 1996Spectravision, Inc.Interactive digital video services system with store and forward capabilities
US5596628Apr 12, 1996Jan 21, 1997Klein; JonMethod and apparatus for initiating loading of software in a personal computer in response to an incoming signal
US5613089Feb 22, 1996Mar 18, 1997Softel, Inc.Method and apparatus for remotely controlling and monitoring the use of computer software
US5641319Aug 10, 1994Jun 24, 1997Lodgenet Entertainment CorporationEntertainment system for providing interactive video game responses to the game interrogations to the video game engines without being processed by the host computer
US5650774Nov 4, 1994Jul 22, 1997Clifford Electronics, Inc.Electronically programmable remote control access system
US5692214Aug 8, 1994Nov 25, 1997Levine; Michael R.System for unattended recording of video programs by remote control code transmitter module which receives user selections from a personal computer
US5742514Sep 11, 1996Apr 21, 1998Compaq Computer CorporationComputer system
US5801689Jan 22, 1996Sep 1, 1998Extended Systems, Inc.Hypertext based remote graphic user interface control system
US5812115Jan 14, 1997Sep 22, 1998Aplus, Inc.Composite mouse assembly
US5856789Sep 23, 1997Jan 5, 1999Huang; Der-ShyunPower supply switching of a computer system by a remote controller
US5948084 *Aug 20, 1997Sep 7, 1999Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.System for remotely controlling a computer having a user interface software communicating with a device driver and driving an application software to perform operation based on a combined key signal
US6289464 *Nov 10, 1998Sep 11, 2001Microsoft CorporationReceiving wireless information on a mobile device with reduced power consumption
US6311282 *Nov 30, 1998Oct 30, 2001Fujitsu Personal Systems, Inc.Method and apparatus for computing device with status display
US6392534 *Jan 28, 2000May 21, 2002Kenneth E. FlickRemote control system for a vehicle having a data communications bus and related methods
US6396438 *Sep 24, 1999May 28, 2002Slc TechnologiesSystem and method for locating radio frequency identification tags using three-phase antenna
US6675300 *Mar 13, 2000Jan 6, 2004Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.Remote controlled computer system and management method having an identification number
JPH09282065A * Title not available
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7292157 *Mar 12, 2004Nov 6, 2007Onkyo CorporationRemote control system for controlling installed program
US8024584 *Oct 1, 2003Sep 20, 2011Ati Technologies UlcRemote connection system capable of generating a wake-up command and method thereof
US8063749 *May 16, 2006Nov 22, 2011X10 Ltd.Multifunctional two-way remote control device
US8275256 *Aug 14, 2009Sep 25, 2012International Business Machines CorporationPower up of device via optical serial interface
US8542991 *Apr 23, 2012Sep 24, 2013International Business Machines CorporationPower-up of device via optical serial interface
US20090243509 *Mar 5, 2009Oct 1, 2009Thomas Alan BarnettUser interface for wireless lighting control
US20110038639 *Aug 14, 2009Feb 17, 2011International Business Machines CorporationPower-up of device via optical serial interface
US20120098649 *Dec 29, 2011Apr 26, 2012Mathias GrimmElectronic open-loop or closed-loop control device for electrically powered furniture
US20120207468 *Apr 23, 2012Aug 16, 2012International Business Machines CorporationPower-up of device via optical serial interface
US20130004178 *Jun 30, 2011Jan 3, 2013Jason KotzinMethod and Device for Learning and Playing Back Electromagnetic Signals
WO2011000007A1 *Jun 16, 2010Jan 6, 2011Julius Blum GmbhElectronic open-loop or closed-loop control device for electrically powered furniture
Classifications
U.S. Classification340/10.4, 340/480, 340/5.61, 340/5.6, 340/5.64, 710/106, 713/185, 340/10.2, 710/73, 340/10.34, 340/10.1, 340/12.5
International ClassificationH04Q5/22
Cooperative ClassificationG06F3/0231, G08C17/02
European ClassificationG08C17/02, G06F3/023C
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Mar 14, 2013FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 8
Jul 29, 2009FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 4
Oct 22, 2001ASAssignment
Owner name: MICRON TECHNOLOGY, INC., IDAHO
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:MEI CALIFORNIA INC;REEL/FRAME:012232/0436
Effective date: 20010322
Mar 30, 2001ASAssignment
Owner name: MEI CALIFORNIA, INC., CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:MICRON ELECTRONICS, INC.;REEL/FRAME:011658/0956
Effective date: 20010322
May 18, 2000ASAssignment
Owner name: MICRON ELECTRONICS, INC., IDAHO
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:LEMAN, MICHAEL V.;CREESE, WILLIAM M.;REEL/FRAME:010825/0033;SIGNING DATES FROM 20000424 TO 20000513